BBQ Season wouldn’t be complete without a stellar Baked Bean Recipe!  Cowboy Beans are a family favorite and are savory with a hint of sweet.  Loaded with ingredients and textures to make every bite the best bite of the meal.

Cowboy Beans

These beans can be made in a Crock-Pot or Slow Cooker but my favorite way to make these Cowboy Beans is in a cast-iron Dutch Oven.   Truth be told it’s a staple recipe when we go camping and a Pot Luck BBQ Favorite side dish recipe.  And for good reason.  They are dang good!

Before you get concerned that this recipe is complicated, it’s not!  In fact, I’m going to show you multiple ways to cook this recipe and you will definitely find one that is right for you and your family.  Easy step-by-step instructions and in no time these beans will be simmering away melding all those yummy flavors together.

This recipe will serve 16-18 people with a nice ½ cup serving.  Or 8-9 servings of a 1 Cup Serving if served as a meal.  Which I recommend on occasion as it’s a hearty recipe.  Do yourself a favor and make some cornbread to go with it, you won’t be disappointed. 

Cowboy Beans in Dutch Oven

How to Cook Cowboy Beans

  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven over Charcoal
  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven over Cache Cooker
  • Enamel Dutch Oven – baked in Oven
  • Slow Cooker / Crock Pot
  • Instant Pot – Shh don’t let the secret out that you can make this recipe in minutes!

Once you choose your chosen method of cooking they all come together rather quickly and easily. 

Gather the ingredients together so everything is handy.  This recipe can easily be cut in half if need, the leftovers can also be easily frozen for later which is ideal.  Just a little tip to help you out if you feel the size is larger than what you need.

Cast Iron Dutch Oven over Charcoal

Step 1: Place 16-18 hot coals as a base for the bottom and place Dutch Oven over coals.  Once hot add sliced bacon.  I like to cut bacon in about 3/4in slices and throw them into the hot Dutch Oven and let them cook stirring as needed

Cooking Bacon in Dutch Oven

Step 2: Remove any excess oil and fat.  It’s easiest to use a few paper towels to absorb the excess fat.

Step 3: Add 1 lb of ground beef to the cooked bacon.  I prefer a lean ground sirloin but choose what you prefer. 

Step 4: Chop ground beef and allow to fully cook.  You may need to drain excess fat from the hamburger depending on what you choose.

Cook Hamburger in Dutch Oven

Step 5: Add diced Onion and Diced Bell Pepper.  Green Bell Pepper gives a nice bite to this recipe, but Red or Yellow is also a great option!  Stir to combine and allow onions and bell pepper to soften for a few minutes.

Step 6: Drain Kidney Beans and Navy Beans.  Add Kidney, Navy and Pork and Beans to meat mixture.

Step 7: Pour Chili Sauce, broth and Yellow Mustard on top.

Step 8: Add ham cubes and brown sugar and stir to combine.

Cowboy Bean ingredients in Dutch Oven

Step 9: Cover with lid and add 12-14 hot coals on top of Dutch Oven

Step 10: Stir every 15 minutes and cook for 60-70 minutes.

Charcoal Tips

Heat Temperature will vary depending on weather.  The wind is the biggest factor when trying to cook using charcoal.  Wind will burn through charcoal faster, and divert the heat.  Try to block wind as much as possible for best result or you will need to add additional charcoal to maintain the cooking heat process.

How Many Pieces of Charcoal is needed per Dutch Oven?

You will need different amounts of charcoal for different sizes of Dutch Ovens.  A good rule of thumb is to place 1 ½ times the diameter of the Dutch Oven on the bottom.  If you are using a 12in Dutch Oven, you will need about 18 coals on the bottom.  You will also need 1 piece of charcoal for every inch in diameter on top.

Dutch Oven Beans using a Cache Cooker

The process is really quick, and when using a cache cooker with a propane tank you have full control of the heat.  Heat 12 in Dutch oven until hot.

  • Add bacon slices.  I like to cut bacon in 3/4in pieces.  Stir as needed until fully cooked
  • Remove the excess fat using paper towels to carefully remove.
  • Add 1 lb Lean Ground Sirloin to bacon and chop to break up beef.  Feel free to use any ground beef.  You may need to remove excess fat after cooking.
  • Dice Onion and Bell Pepper. Green Bell Pepper gives a nice bite to this recipe, but Red or Yellow is also a great option!  Stir to combine and allow onions and bell pepper to soften for a few minutes.
  • Drain Kidney Beans and Navy Beans.  Add Kidney, Navy, and Pork and Beans to meat mixture.
  • Pour Chili Sauce, broth, and Yellow Mustard on top.
  • Add ham cubes and brown sugar and stir to combine.
  • Cover Dutch Oven with Lid and allow beans to simmer on low for 60-70 minutes.  Stir every 15 minutes to avoid burning.

Enameled Dutch Ovens baked in Oven OR Slow Cooker

  • In a large skillet on the stove over medium/high heat add bacon slices.  I like to cut bacon in 3/4in pieces.  Stir as needed until fully cooked.
  • Remove excess fat using paper towels to carefully remove.
  • Add 1 lb Lean Ground Sirloin to bacon and chop to break up beef.  Feel free to use any ground beef.  You may need to remove excess fat after cooking.
  • Dice Onion and Bell Pepper. Green Bell Pepper gives a nice bite to this recipe, but Red or Yellow is also a great option!  Stir to combine and allow onions and bell pepper to soften for a few minutes.
  • Pour meat mixture into Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven
  • Drain Kidney Beans and Navy Beans.  Add Kidney, Navy and Pork and Beans to meat mixture.
  • Pour Chili Sauce, broth and Yellow Mustard on top.
  • Add ham cubes and brown sugar and stir to combine.
  • Cover Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker with Lid
  • Bake in 350 Degree Pre-heated Oven for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes
  • OR – Use Slow Cooker and set to low for 4 hours.

I’m often asked which method of cooking is BEST?  The best cooking method is the one you prefer!  I love to cook using charcoal when given the opportunity but I won’t hesitate to use a Cache Cooker.  During the winter months when outdoor cooking is difficult, I enjoying baking in the oven or even pulling out the slow cooker.  It’s just one of the many reasons why I love this recipe.

Cowboy Beans in Dutch Oven

But WAIT!  Don’t forget about the Instant Pot.  Instant Pot Baked Beans are fantastic, so make sure to check out this recipe.  You will have baked beans in no time and won’t miss the flavor from a long simmer. Let me tell you that making Cowboy Beans with my Peppers and Sausage recipe is a HUGE hit!

Dutch Oven Cooking fun Facts

  • Some Dutch Ovens have 3 legs and some have 4
  • Some have flat lids to hold charcoal
  • In 2001 Dutch Oven was named the cooking vessel of Arkansas
  • Utah’s state cooking Pot 1997

Can you use a Cast Iron Camping Dutch Oven in the Oven?

Yes.  Cast Iron Dutch Ovens can be used camping as well as in the home.

Which brand of Dutch Oven is Best?

We have been Cooking Dutch for 30+ years.  We love Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Ovens and own many.  The 10in and 12in are our most used.

What is the difference between a 10in Deep and a 12in Regular Dutch Oven?

A 10in Deep will be narrower in diameter than a 12in regular.  The number is in reference to the inches in diameter.  The 10in Deep will be taller and will hold the same amount as a 12in because of the depth.  A deep Dutch Oven is useful when cooking Dutch Oven Potatoes, or even a whole chicken.  There are many great uses for a deep Dutch Oven.

Choosing a Size?

Bigger is not always better especially when it comes to the cooking process.  It’s best to use an oven that will hold the ingredients with at least an inch of room with the lid closed.  Having too much room will change the cooking process and not having enough space will also cause problems with ingredients spilling out.

How to Clean

Cleaning your oven is very easy.  Remove everything that was cooked.  Add 2-3 cups of hot water.  Heat oven over coals, cache cooker, or even stovetop.  The heat will boil the water and lift any stuck bits from the oven.  Use a scraping tool or wooden spoon to remove stuck bits.  Pour off water and rinse.  DO NOT USE SOAP.  Allow the oven to dry.  Wipe with a light coating of vegetable oil.  Your oven is perfect for your next use.

Favorites Camping Meals

Wednesday #BBQWeek Recipes

Appetizers and Drinks

Side Dishes

Main Dishes

Desserts

Be sure to follow our Pinterest board for more summer BBQ ideas. Thank you to Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures and Ellen from Family Around the Table for hosting the event.

Cowboy Beans
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Cowboy Beans

Cowboy Beans a Baked Bean Recipe perfect for any Pot Luck BBQ, Camping, or Dutch Oven Cooking event. These beans are loaded with flavors and ingredients to bring the BEST to the table. Serve as a Side Dish or even Main Course
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 18
Calories: 195kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 12oz Bacon
  • 1 lb Ground Hamburger 93/7% Lean
  • 1 Cup Ham Cubes
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • 1 Can Navy Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • 2 Cans Pork and Beans
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Bottle Chili Sauce
  • 1 Cup Beef Broth
  • 1 tbl Yellow Mustard
  • 1 Cup Yellow Onion Diced
  • 1 Bell Pepper Red, Green, Yellow, OR Orange Diced

Instructions

Dutch Oven over Coals

  • Place 16-18 hot coals as a base for the bottom and place 12 inch Dutch Oven over coals. Allow Dutch Oven to heat up. Once hot add sliced bacon.  I like to cut bacon in about 3/4in slices and throw them into the hot Dutch Oven and let them cook stirring as needed
  • Remove any excess oil and fat.  It’s easiest to use a few paper towels to absorb the excess fat.
  • Add 1 lb of ground beef to the cooked bacon.  I prefer a lean ground sirloin but choose what you prefer. 
  • Chop ground beef and allow to fully cook.  You may need to drain excess fat from the hamburger depending on what you choose.
  • Add diced Onion and Diced Bell Pepper.  Green Bell Pepper gives a nice bite to this recipe, but Red or Yellow is also a great option!  Stir to combine and allow onions and bell pepper to soften for a few minutes.
  • Drain Kidney Beans and Navy Beans.  Add Kidney, Navy and Pork and Beans to meat mixture.
  • Pour Chili Sauce, broth, and Yellow Mustard on top.
  • Add ham cubes and brown sugar and stir to combine.
  • Cover with lid and add 12-14 hot coals on top of Dutch Oven
  • Stir every 15 minutes and cook for 60-70 minutes.

Enameled Dutch Ovens baked in Oven OR Slow Cooker

  • In a large skillet on the stove over medium/high heat add bacon slices.  I like to cut bacon in 3/4in pieces.  Stir as needed until fully cooked.
  • Remove excess fat using paper towels to carefully remove.
  • Add 1 lb Lean Ground Sirloin to bacon and chop to break up beef.  Feel free to use any ground beef.  You may need to remove excess fat after cooking.
  • Dice Onion and Bell Pepper. Green Bell Pepper gives a nice bite to this recipe, but Red or Yellow is also a great option!  Stir to combine and allow onions and bell pepper to soften for a few minutes.
  • Pour meat mixture into Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven
  • Drain Kidney Beans and Navy Beans.  Add Kidney, Navy and Pork and Beans to meat mixture.
  • Pour Chili Sauce, broth and Yellow Mustard on top.
  • Add ham cubes and brown sugar and stir to combine.
  • Cover Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker with Lid
  • Bake in 350 Degree Pre-heated Oven for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes OR – Use Slow Cooker and set to low for 4 hours.

Notes

Charcoal Tips

Heat Temperature will vary depending on the weather.  The wind is the biggest factor when trying to cook using charcoal.  Wind will burn through charcoal faster, and divert the heat.  Try to block the wind as much as possible for the best result or you will need to add additional charcoal to maintain the cooking heat process.

How Many Pieces of Charcoal is needed per Dutch Oven?

You will need different amounts of charcoal for different sizes of Dutch Ovens.  A good rule of thumb is to place 1 ½ times the diameter of the Dutch Oven on the bottom.  If you are using a 12in Dutch Oven, you will need about 18 coals on the bottom.  You will also need 1 piece of charcoal for every inch in diameter on top.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 535mg | Potassium: 403mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 208IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg
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